ESFA Internationals

Centenary Shield Match Report: Republic of Ireland v England

The England Under 18 Schoolboys began their hummel Centenary Shield campaign with a 3-1 win over a strong Republic of Ireland side at Athlone Town FC on Friday 24 March. The first goal of the campaign was scored by England midfielder, Jacob Towns.

The first chance of the game fell to England after a great turn by Rio Joisce in the centre of the park and then releasing Sam Johnson over the top who took the ball down in his control, before trying an audacious chip which ended just wide of the goal.

In the 9th minute, England were awarded a corner where Rio put in an inviting cross and Ireland only managed to clear this to the edge of the box, where Jacob Towns ran onto the ball and shot towards goal, beating the goalkeeper after taking a slight deflection.

England did not have long to wait to double their lead as in the 17th minute, after some intricate play inside the Irish box, Oscar Fletcher managed to find Luke Slater who scored in the bottom left corner from a tight angle.

The Republic had a great chance in the 21st minute, after a good ball over the top left the England Captain, Laiith Fairnie running back to his own goal. Republic of Ireland number 9, Brian Cunningham, forced a great save from James Taylor who closed down the gap and made himself look big, keeping the two-goal lead for England.

England defender, Tyrese Hughes received the first yellow card of the campaign, after colliding with Peter Grogan who was through on goal. The resulting free kick on the edge of the box was sent just wide by the Irish number 14, Adam O’Halloran. A let off for England.

The ROI started to apply pressure by moving the ball around the pitch well. A good ball through to Ireland striker, Cunningham was intercepted by Fairnie who was then caught by the striker, which resulted in the first booking for the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland clawed a goal back in the forty-second minute after a good switch of play from the centre of the park to the right winger. He managed to get past Hughes and after an unfortunate slip by Fairnie, left the player 1 v 1 with England goalkeeper, Taylor. The striker came out triumphant after slipping the ball past Taylor at the near post.

At half time the score remained 1-2 to England.

The first chance of the second half fell to England with a free kick just outside the Irish box. Oscar Fletcher put in a good cross, but unfortunately England could not extend their lead, as Fairnie couldn’t guide his attempt towards goal.

England Manager, Luke Hampton, made his first substitution in the 61st minute by making a like for like change, replacing Hughes for Jack Bostock.

A good link-up in the middle of the park between Town, Fletcher and Joisce created an opportunity for Salter 1v1, however this time the keeper managed to keep the ball out of the net with a good save down to his right-hand side; which was then cleared up the pitch by the Irish defence.

England managed to extend their lead to two goals again through Salter, who scored his second goal of the game. The goal came from a good overlap from Salter with Fraser playing a good pass to find him. Salter cut inside, shot through the crowd and beat the keeper at the near post.

England received a free-kick on the edge of the box, Salter who was on a hattrick stood over the ball. The freekick beat the wall but unfortunately for Salter the keeper made a good save and the score remained at 1-3. Luke Hampton looked to bring fresh legs on for the second time of the game, by bringing on Jay Sangha for Fletcher in the 75th minute.

With ten minutes left of normal time, the Republic of Ireland received a corner. A good flick on to the back post left an Irish player with what he thought was an easy tap in. However, James Taylor had a different idea by covering the length of this goal and making an unbelievable save to keep a two-goal lead for England.

Dominic Cupid came on for Fraser in the 84th minute to make his debut and supply some fresh legs for the remaining few minutes.

With six minutes added time, England dug in deep to secure the three points with a hope to carry the momentum on to the next game against Scotland at Broadwood Stadium on the 31st March 2023.

You can watch a replay of the full match here.

Photo credits: 353 Photography

ESFA Internationals

Centenary Shield Match Report: NI v England

England U18 Schoolboys edge past Northern Ireland in inspiresport Centenary Shield opener

England Under 18 Schoolboys were 2-1 winners over Northern Ireland, thanks to a late Josh Stones strike. The win sees England get their Centenary Shield campaign off to a flyer, whilst Northern Ireland fell to their second defeat in three games.

England started the stronger of the two sides and came close to opening the score after five minutes. Josh Stones rose highest to meet Jack Bates’ corner, however his header sailed over the bar, in what was the first real chance of the game.

England continued to pile on the pressure with Freddie Legg forcing Rian Brown into a smart save. However, moments later England’s early dominance would pay off, as Jack Bates’ through ball found Legg, who this time made no mistake and fired home to give the visitors an early lead.

The game settled down following the goal, and as Northern Ireland grew into the game; clear-cut chances for either side were few and far between. Northern Ireland striker, Jack McFeely had been kept quiet for the first half hour of the game, however he found himself with a yard of space inside the final third. Before the would-be defenders had a chance to close him down, McFeely tried his luck from distance; his long-range strike beating Harvey Keogh and the scores were level.

As the game headed towards half time, both sides struggled for possession. The final chance of the opening period fell again to Stones, who’s tame shot forced Brown into a straightforward save.

As the half-time whistle sounded, the scores were level, a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes.

Northern Ireland started the brighter of the two sides in the second half and were unlucky not to find themselves in front. England’s wayward ball found it’s way into the path of Lewis Tosh, who’s left footed drive thundered back off the post and the scores remained level.

The second half was similar to the first, with both sides fighting for possession in the middle of the field. The next big chance of the game would again fall to Northern Ireland, as Jack Montgomery found himself in space in the box. His right footed effort was well saved by Keogh, but the alarm bells were ringing for England.

Moments later, the hosts’ best chance of the game fell one again to Tosh, who poked the ball wide following a mistake from Keogh in the England goal. Northern Ireland wouldn’t have it all their own way, a scuffed clearance fell to Joe Paradise, who’s close range effort was deflected wide for another corner; despite the appeals of the England players who claimed handball.

The visitors were causing problems from set pieces and as another corner was floated in, Ashton Fox climbed above everyone else, only for his header to flash wide of the far post.

The game had opened up in the second half and it seemed as though a goal was just around the corner. 

With little over 15 minutes to play, Northern Ireland thought they had it, as McFeely fired home; however, the referee spotted a foul in the build up and the scores remained level.

Northern Ireland came close again 5 minutes later. Odhran McCart’s long ball forward caused problems for Keogh, who was relieved to see the ball trickle past his post; after his mistimed jump saw the ball loop over his head.

As the game looked to be heading for a draw, Bailey Hall produced a smart bit of skill before he fizzed a low ball into the path of Stones, who stayed calm and fired the winner in for England. Stones then had the chance to put the game beyond all doubt, as he broke down the right-hand side his shot was saved by Brown to keep the score at 2-1.

That would prove to be the final action of the game, as England got their inspiresport Centenary Shield campaign off to a winning start.

England are back in action next Friday as they face Scotland at Spennymoor Town. Tickets are still available to purchase via Spennymoor’s website. With prices at only £5 for adults and £3 for children, you can join the already 1,500 strong crowd to cheer on the England Schoolboys in their second Centenary Shield fixture of 2022.

Both the highlights and full match are available to watch back via our YouTube channel, ESFA TV

Photo credits: 353 Photography